Jessica Preston was arrested for driving with a suspended license at eight months pregnant. But when she went into labor prematurely, prison staff refused care, and she was forced to give birth on the floor of her jail cell. Now, she’s speaking out.
Detroit’s Local 4 News is reporting the appalling story. It happened at the Macomb County Jail in Mt. Clemens, Mich. The jail has documented history of deaths behind bars; 37 year-old Jennifer Meyers died of sepsis during a 30-day sentence for failing to pay child support, and 32 year-old David Stojcevski died of withdrawals from a doctor-prescribed drug he wasn’t given behind bars.
“I was scared! I was so worried for both of us, that either one of us could catch something,” she told CBS News.
Driving on a suspended license was Jessica Preston’s first offense, though she was wanted on outstanding warrants. She was to be held for just five days until her trial. In the interim, she gave birth to her son, Elijah. Born a month premature, he weighed just 5 pounds when delivered. Preston’s first child was delivered via emergency C-section.
Elijah is doing alright now. Elijah’s father, Thomas Chastain, is not. He’s angry that he missed the birth of his son, telling Local 4 News, “I didn’t get to cut the cord […] didn’t get to hold him.”
He’s also furious that prison staff refused to let someone arrested for any offense, let alone a license violation, go to the hospital. Jessica Preston’s mother, Linda Preston, agrees, and is demanding answers.
“They just left her [to] lay there. They didn’t care. They just kept saying she wasn’t having the baby, and I don’t know how anybody could say when she was bleeding, ‘You’re not having a baby,’ and that they didn’t send her to the hospital. Who makes that call?”
Sheriff Tony Wickersham, who oversees the Macomb County Jail, told CBS News that he was “100 percent” that “[the jail’s] people did what they needed to do.” After David Stojcevski’s death in 2014, he defended his deputies by saying that privately hired medical staff makes medical decisions, and his deputies only follow orders from them.